“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” - General George S. Patton
I hope you took time to celebrate Veteran’s Day (Remembrance Day for Canada) by honoring our men and women who volunteered to lay their lives on the line to protect the freedoms we hold dear. I am grateful to have served our country and thankful for all who take the time to honor our veterans.
It’s only appropriate that this week’s blog has a quote from a veteran leader like General George S. Patton. All military branches adhere to the “chain of command.” The chain of command is a unit’s organizational structure based on the rank of the individuals within it. Rank is the primary driver for who is in charge. The senior ranking person of a unit is the leader. Whatever the leader says is passed down the chain of command and implemented. Understand, this is the easiest and most basic way for me to describe the flow of communication in the military. General Patton would be one of those leaders who is at the top of the military chain giving orders that everyone else executes.
With that in mind, look at General Patton’s quote, “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” Great leaders know they don’t have all the answers. No matter how many hours they planned, strategized and went over every scenario they can think of, great leaders value the thoughts of others. Just because you are the senior ranking person in your organization doesn’t mean you have all the answers. You may have the authority to execute and enforce policy but you don’t always have all the information or understand the impact to everyone in the organization. Leaders who expect their organizations to blindly follow them and not allow for their ideas to be challenged or discussed by the key influencers are on the verge of testing what the bible says happens when “the blind lead the blind.”
Leaders need to have people in their inner circles, or leadership teams, who think differently than they do. Leaders also need to have a group of people they regularly meet with (not just a staff meeting) for the purpose of getting more brain power to solve problems and plan new courses of action for the organization. Challenging a leader’s thinking and having your thinking challenged is uncomfortable, but that is when we grow. Growth happens when we are uncomfortable. Leaders, do you have a room full of sheep who simply go along with you or are you open to listening to your team? How do you respond when someone questions your ideas? Do you foster an environment where the best idea wins, or does only your idea win?